An exotic planet, from the outside solar system, is floating alone through space without orbiting a star, was discovered by a team of astronomers, according to a study published in the United States.
This gaseous exoplanet, called PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth (one light year = 9,460 billion kilometers) and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter, said the astronomers. The planet was formed a mere 12 million years ago, a newborn in planet lifetimes.
“I have never before seen an object like this floating free in space and it has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars”,
said Michael Liu of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the team leader of this discovery.
“I am often asked myself whether such solitary bodies exists, and now we know they do”.
This exoplanet has unique characteristics including weight, color and energy output which is similar to those of gas-giant planets found orbiting around “new” stars.
During the past decades, the “haunting” of exoplanets has been accelerated approximately 1,000 planets were detected by indirect methods such as wobbling or dimming of their host stars induced by the planet.
Few of these planets could be observed directly, whereas most are orbiting around young stars that are less than 200 million years old and which are very bright.
The new exoplanet will give scientists “a unique opportunity to view into the inner workings of a gas-giant planets like Jupiter, shortly after its birth”, said Niall Deacon of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and a co-author of the study.
The discovery was made by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui.